Hopping on board: Fifth Annual Sock Hop raises funds for the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Community members tapped their toes and took their places on the dance floor, in Town Run Tap House and Community Pub on Friday night. Coming from throughout the Eastern Panhandle, attendees supported the Fifth Annual Sock Hop Benefit Dance and Charity Auction by donating money to enter the dance.
Along with dancing, attendees also raised money for the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center’s safe nights program, by bidding on silent auction items and participating in a 50/50 raffle. For some community members, bidding wasn’t enough, and they spent their evening helping to raise bids for the two most expensive auction items: a Milwaukee M12 FUEL drill and an Ibanez electric guitar.
“It’s worth $230, and it’s all for a good cause,” said Shepherdstown sculptor Dow Benedict about the drill, as he greeted potential bidders from the bar. “All the sculptors in the room are bidding against each other for it — we all want it. It’s a regular drill, but it’s a very high-end drill, and a higher quality than sculptors tend to buy.
“Of course, I bought a ticket — I think I have 20 of them,” Benedict said, with a smile, mentioning that his biggest threat to winning the drill was from an associate sculpture professor. “Chris Benefiel, at Shepherd University, he’s also a sculptor, and he bought 20 tickets, too, so we’re competing.”
The first hour of the evening began with the traditional swing dancing lessons, which are taught every year by Kyle Pullen. Pullen, local disk jockey Rick Rohn and band the New Rocketeers, donated their evenings to the event, said EPEC Victim Advocate Jenna Pepple.
“All of the people helping with this event, along with the auction items and event space, were donated to this event,” Pepple said. “We’re making more than we did last year, so we’re hoping to meet our goal that was made last year.”
According to EPEC Director Katie Spriggs, that goal was well underway, as within the first hour-and-a-half of the event, enough funds had been raised for the organization to provide 18 nights in a hotel room for a person and/or family in need, who was a victim of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The sock hop is EPEC’s only fundraiser, focusing specifically on raising money for safe night housing.
“We raised a little over $4,000 last year,” Spriggs said, mentioning this year’s sock hop had better attendance than last year’s event. “Over the years that we’ve held this event, our most successful one raised $5,400.”